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By the author of An Arm and a Leg and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications
I was talking to somebody just the other day who had bought a piece of property about a year ago. Their original intentions were for building a house – their dream home – on it. They went through all the necessary paperwork, picked up the building permits, got a well dug, and dug the foundation of their home.
And then the contractor called. Due to inflation, they were going to have to either raise the estimate of completing the home by $100,000, or they were going to have to renege on the deal. According to the contractor, there was simply no other way that they were going to be able to make money on the house should they not raise the price.
The lumber market had gone haywire, and just picking up a simple 2×4 had become 3x more difficult than it was three years ago. The end result was that the job ended up getting canceled. A piece of property now sits out there in Americana, with a big ol’ hole in the middle of it just waiting for a house to be plopped down into it.
At the moment, that hole is gradually being filled in with weeds.
When, or if, the build ever starts up again, I can’t help but wonder if the foundation is going to have to be worked on once more due to all of this growth and the inevitable caving in of parts of the below-ground sections of the build.
I think that if you’re handy, you can save yourself a heck of a lot of money by doing a number of household tasks by yourself. If you know how to frame a room, wire a house, and hang vinyl siding, you can literally save yourself thousands of dollars in construction costs.
What do you do, though, when you don’t have that ability? Perhaps it’s a lack of skill, but maybe it’s just a lack of time. You are forced to rely on contractors at that point. How do you go about building a house then?
And even if you do decide to do as much of everything as possible by yourself, there is still no way of getting around the massive increase in the price of EVERYTHING.
Concrete, lumber, metal fasteners, vinyl, brick – all of it – it’s all blown through the roof.
I’ve spent a lot of time around contractors growing up. Carpenters, HVAC technicians, electricians – they were all some of the men that played a consistent role in my growing up. I’ve witnessed in the past (2009) how these hits to the housing sector end up hitting them as well.
But to see how this is playing out again is heartbreaking. To watch as people literally cannot build the homes that they could have built three years ago, not because of any decrease in their personal income, but because of an increase in prices, is concerning.
I can’t help but wonder if the best bet for anybody that is looking at potentially moving at the moment isn’t to stick with established properties. If they need a little bit of TLC, sure, no problem. But if they need a complete renovation, or if you’re looking at a property that currently doesn’t have a home on it but would serve as a perfect location for your dream home – well, in that case, I’m kind of concerned.
For myself, I’ve looked around at some different properties out there to consider toying around with the notion of building a place, and I consistently come to the same conclusion: at the moment, I don’t think it’s worth it.
The cost of building a house bill would be sky high.
And that’s with my doing a heck of a lot of the work myself. I’m not ignorant when I get around a scrap of lumber and some tools. I’ve laid flooring, painted rooms, built furniture – I can do a lot of that stuff. But even despite all of this, the cost still seems like it would be prohibitive.
I’ve been listening to a lot of realtors, and pretty much all of them that I listen to think that we’re about to see the “bubble” pop and that these sky-high home prices that we’ve been seeing for the past two years are about to come to a very severe and sudden end.
I can’t help but wonder if, for me, it would be better to just wait till then. Wait for everything to crash and then pay for a house that’s already been built that now is considered a “normal” price. And then, the other side of me can’t help but wonder if inflation gets worse, will anybody be able to afford any home in the near future, even with a housing market crash?
What’s the correct answer for a Frugalite?
Is building a house worth it? To be honest, I don’t really know. It’s a whole host of stuff that has me confused and really, rather angry.
But what are your thoughts on the matter? Can the housing market last at these current prices? If not, when do you think a crash will come? Is building a new home right now economically wise? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comment section below.
*Disclaimer: None of this is investment advice, but instead, is the random musings of a Southerner trying to make sense of the modern world and money. This is for information and entertainment purposes only.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Building a House in the Current Market”
I think the bubble will likely burst again. My house is supposedly worth $280k when I paid $165k for it. I take that with a deer-sized salt lick. I wouldn’t dare building right now. Not only are the prices exorbitant, but the quality is way down. It’s so hard to find construction lumber that isn’t bowed, twisted, full of pith, or sporting other issues that could seriously affect the ability to make it into anything. Even the nicer dimensional stuff has issues. Of course that’s at the big box home improvement stores, but there aren’t a lot of alternatives in many areas.
I might consider building if I were doing something less standard – like a tiny house, cob construction, straw bale, shockcrete, etc. However material costs are still going to be higher. Then we have to think about the permitting. How much of your own work will your magnanimous local government even allow you to do, and stay up to code?
Any thoughts on a prefab or kit house?
There are also countless numbers of people who especially in the coastal states (where housing costs have skyrocketed out of sight) have sold or put lots of personal possessions into temporary storage and moved into nomadic-capable vehicles. Such vehicles have included more than just RVs. Trucks, cars, vans, SUVs, modified school busses, modified ambulances, etc have all facilitated the neo-gypsy lifestyle to wait out the economic chaos while preserving access to employment or even DIY businesses.
There are years of such examples in videos on YouTube. One of the most well known is “CheapRVliving” from Bob Wells who learned the hard way many years ago that his divorce court settlement terms didn’t leave him enough funds to support two households. So he moved into an RV and began teaching millions how to do the same. One you pull up his YouTube channel, you’ll find references to several other people with similar vehicular how-to channels.
There’s nothing about such a choice that means it has to be permanent. But trying to forecast how long the current economic chaos might last is probably not possible. So a nomadic choice could be one way to make possible one’s own “wait and see” strategy — without committing to building a house as the economy crashes.